Kampala, Uganda. The beauty of the unexpected.

I am just back from the African Regional Conference in Kampala.
Talking with one of my speakers, a sentence still resonates in my mind: what we show about Uganda if often (if not all the time) people dying or starving, and we rarely show how vibrant, culturally and resource wise rich and growth-drive this country is, and after only four days there I could feel it.

I had the privilege and the pleasure to host a panel with three great speakers, Stephen Mwaura from Kenyan central bank, Kioko Musymi from Citi and Stephen Segujja from Stanbic Bank.
Topic was Mobile banking, payments and remittances… With a central, a global and a regional bank. Possibly the best combination of entities.
Martine De Weirdt and Ian Bessarabia were my partners in crime, and we ran two Innotribe labs in an unprecedented (for Africa) way of making people work together.

Mariela ATANASSOVA @ team produced a great set of videos that you can find here.

Here’ a great picture form the panel. You can tell we had fun!

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In a nutshell, here re the outcomes of the panel discussion:

– Mobile is to Africa a far more disruptive revolution than what Internet was to developed countries
– Market is fragmented, and here are structural, social, technological and historical reasons for that. Innovation is a key factor, supported by a fertile technology ground
– Regulation must cooperate with the different players, and mobile operators and banks need to cooperate on a structural basis
– Strategy is to define and agree on a common ground, being interoperability the way to grow
– The high penetration of mobile devices and the number of initiatives (50% of mobile eco-systems in the world are in Africa) give an excellent opportunity for market harmonisation, once the technological and regulative common ground will be found

Then we have the two labs:

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Labs were crowded, vibrant, and fun.
We asked in first lab how to remove the barriers to mobile Eco-system interoperability and adoption.
Eight groups of a dozen of people, and reporting back.

In 45′ you cannot expect a very structured outcome, fair enough, but it had the merit to make people network, discuss and share.
Collaboration and education the main focuses, no surprises about that!

The second lab was to set the principles for a low cost, interoperable, global, innovative mobile Eco-system.
Again, big crowd showed up. More to write on this.

Between day one and day two, a great experience.
A tribal show in a cultural center.
As I posted on my Facebook wall, you felt so ancestrally connected to your human roots that emotions were flowing without you knowing why.

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Cherry on the cake, few local bankers approached me to explore how to leverage the start up community and get the Innotribe incubator involved.
Long story short: more Uganda soon!

Stay tuned

Matteo

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